Steven Lorentz finished up his third professional season in a big way, finishing second on the Charlotte Checkers in points and goals. The 24-year-old had a breakout year, setting career highs in goals, assists, points, +/-, and penalty minutes while seeing top six minutes in the AHL. Lorentz is a part of the Hurricanes’ roster for the return to play and will look to make an impression heading into training camp.
This season was your breakout year in Charlotte. Could you talk about what went right this season and how it helped you succeed in the AHL?
I guess that before this season, winning a championship was huge for my confidence. It gave me an understanding of what it took to win. I realized that I was a depth player on that team and Warsy (coach Ryan Warsofsky) called me before training camp and he told me that I’d be playing in a bigger role with the team. He showed confidence in my abilities and was true to his word. His trust helped me grow a lot. When you recognize what the coach is doing and that he has trust in you, it gives you confidence and a bit of swagger to do your best. I got off to a slow start but stuck with it, and he kept helping me out. Once I got all of the little things down, the points started coming. It was so fun coming to the rink every day.
You have some high praise for Coach Warsofsky. How long do you think it’ll be before he gets a call from an NHL team for a job?
It’s hard to ignore a coach like Ryan Warsofsky for long, and when the players can vouch for his intensity and competitiveness, teams take notice. He understands what buttons he can press with some players and he wants you to give one hundred percent. He talked the talk but made sure to walk the walk too. He’d jump in to do drills and bump up the intensity. He’s a great coach and it shouldn’t be long before NHL teams take notice. He and Brind’Amour are both passionate for the game and it makes you want to run through a wall for the both of them.
How did you spend the past few months? Did you go back to live with family, or did you stay in Charlotte?
There wasn’t anything to do. We found out that the season was on a pause two days before our game, and nobody had been through this before, so nobody knew what would happen. We just prepared for the next weekend’s games. They told us that we’d go home and sit there for two weeks and not leave the house. My girlfriend and I drove twelve hours home and sat there for three months, pretty much. You couldn’t go anywhere, so I had to work out in my garage. I was flipping tractor tires that my friend dropped off and lifting bricks in my garage until Roddy called me about a month ago. He asked if I’d want to be a part of the Canes’ run. I’m fortunate because there are people that don’t know where they’ll be next season or if there will be a season. I told him that I’d come down as soon as I could even though I hadn’t been skating in three months. I’ve been here for about two weeks and I’m not on a line yet, but if I get called upon, I’m ready to go.
What was it like receiving the call from the Canes saying that you would be a part of the squad for the return to play?
It was weird because it’s sort of like an NHL call-up, but it isn’t, you know? They don’t know what’s going to happen but they still want you to be a part of things. Every person that I’ve spoken to has told me that every day in the NHL is a blessing, so that’s my mentality. It was cool to tell people that I’ll be working out and practicing with the NHL team. Hopefully we don’t see any injuries, but my job is to fill in if that’s the case. It’s a little nerve wracking since my debut might be in the playoffs, but it’s a little comforting knowing that everyone is sort of starting from scratch.
Do you believe that this experience will help prepare you for training camp next year? How so?
This experience will be beneficial. It’s too bad that everyone can’t be in this position because I get a bit of a head start. I get to elevate my game and surround myself with the best of the best, but when you’re home in the summer, you don’t get that opportunity. When you get to hang around the culture of the team and be there, it gives you a sense of belonging and that you believe you’re a part of things. The goal is to play in the NHL and win a Stanley Cup, but I don’t want to just play in one game. I want more.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned during your time as a pro?
Little things happen every day to help me grow. Consistency is key here and you can’t take a day off in the NHL. That’s a big lesson I’ve learned over the past few years. Enjoy the hard work, and even though some days will be tougher than others, it’s worth it. You may have bag skates, you may block a hard shot, you may have bruises, but it’s all worth it.
You played in the Kelly Cup final two years ago with Florida in the ECHL and won the Calder Cup with Charlotte last season. Do you go for the trifecta and go to the Stanley Cup Final this year?
I’ll take that with me if it helps! We could make a story out of it! We came so close to winning the Kelly Cup and it still bothers me that we lost but being in the Stanley Cup Final would be so amazing. Losing showed me how hard it was to win, so that gave me a bit of motivation. I want to be on my A game, and even if I’m not called upon, I’ll be the team’s biggest fan.
It’s special for me. The Stanley Cup is still at stake even though it’s a different scenario for all of us. Every team will want to compete just as hard, so I’m preparing for the hardest fight of my career. I’ve seen some people say that it won’t be a true Stanley Cup win, but I disagree. It takes the same amount of dedication and hard work, and that’s hockey to me. If we can bring the Cup to Raleigh, it’ll be a dream come true and a hell of a day.
Is there any extra mental preparation involved for playing without fans?
I’m not sure how to prepare to play without fans, to be honest. I’ve had fans since junior, so I don’t know what it’ll be like. It’ll feel empty in a big arena, so I don’t know what to expect. I was at the game against New Jersey when the Canes clinched the playoffs for the first time in ten years. The building was rocking and the fans’ intensity 100% gave the players some momentum. If you take that out of the arena, it’s bound to affect you.
Anything else you’d like to say to Canes fans?
Don’t be selfish, wear a mask! We all want fans to be back in the arena as soon as possible, and wearing a mask will help us get there faster!
Thank you to Steven and the Hurricanes organization for making this happen! 12:00 on August 1 can’t come soon enough. I think we’re all ready for hockey to return, as long as everyone involved is safe.